10/30/2009

By Lisa Loomis

Local schools saw higher numbers of students out sick last week and this week, with flu-like symptoms, but only one case of H1N1 has been identified.

In Warren, school nurse Fran Blair said there were a lot of students sick over the last weekend and this Monday. All students in the Washington West School District were out of school for teacher in-service training days on October 22 and 23.

"On Monday we had a larger number of kids out; we had 30 (out of 170) kids out but they are all coming back now and seem to be fine," Blair said.

NO WAY OF KNOWING

"We have no way of knowing if the kids had H1N1 or not because the doctor's office was telling them not to come in to be tested. But it is unusual to have so many kids out this early," Blair said.

She said Warren's H1N1 flu shot clinic, originally scheduled for October 29, had been postponed by the Vermont Department of Health until December 4.

In Fayston, Principal Chris Dodge reported that the school's H1N1 clinic had also been postponed by the Vermont Department of Health.

"The best case scenario is that our first clinic will now be November 30, which was the original date of our second clinic. Children 10 and under need two vaccinations for H1N1," he said.

Dodge said during last week's short week of school, he knew that some families kept their kids home proactively.

MUCH BETTER

"We had as many as 25 to 30 kids out as we got into Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, but we don't know how many were ill or on vacation. This week the numbers are much better. On Monday there were 15 absent and we know 10 of those kids were ill. On Tuesday there were five out and we know four were ill. There are seven kids out ill today," he said.

It's normal for Fayston to have three to four students out per day, so seven on Wednesday and 10 on Monday were on the high side," Dodge added.

In Waitsfield, student absences peaked last Tuesday when 40 students were out, according to school nurse Sue Dillon. Students out sick averaged between 30 and 40 per day during the short week and fell to 14 students out sick on Monday, 15 to 20 out on Tuesday including the students that Dillon has sent home.

FLU-LIKE ILLNESSES

"Generally we do start seeing flu-like illnesses in October, but don't get this level of illness until February usually. We had one student who was tested positive or H1N1 and the majority of the illnesses we're seeing are flu-like, but since they are not being tested, we don't know," Dillon said.

Waitsfield has now scheduled a flu clinic with the Green Mountain Valley School on Monday, November 2. Waitsfield initially opted not to hold a clinic, but then received word that the school could piggy back on an existing GMVS clinic.

H1N1 or the regular flu have not had the same type of impact in Moretown as in other Valley schools. School Principal Debbie Lesure said there were eight students (out of 143) out of school on October 28 and said attendance last week was stable.

PRESCHOOLERS

"The only group where we saw greater absences than usual was in the preschoolers and we heard from some parents that they were keeping their kids home as a preventative measure," Lesure said.

Moretown will join with Harwood Union in offering an H1N1 clinic on November 23.

At Harwood Union absenteeism rose this week, higher than normal, according to school nurse Linda King. She said this week the school was seeing between 30 and 40 students out each day.

"We're being told the kids have flu-like symptoms and parents are heeding our notices to keep sick kids home because we're not having to send kids home," King said.

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